Housing Starts: Good, Bad & Ugly

Some interesting mixed data from the builders and permit seekers today.

The Good:

• Total housing starts rose 1.5% last month (seasonally adjusted) to 598,000 annual rate — the highest since November 2008;
• Starts are up 22.5% since January;
• Construction of housing two or more units jumped 25.3%; Construction of 5+ units were 35.3% higher on the month;
• NAHB housing market index rose 1 point to 19
• Building permits in August climbed 2.7% to a 579,000 annual rate

The Bad

• Single-family home starts declined 3.0%
• Overall Housing starts climbed less-than-expected 1.5% (seasonally adjusted 598,000)
• Housing completions dropped 5.5%
• Total starts were very close to the 600,000 annual rate, adding more houses to an already bloated supply of inventory;
• Monthly gain was due to multi-family construction

The Ugly

• Groundbreakings of homes five + units were down 48.2% on the year;
• Completions are off 25.3% in the past year;
• Year over year, housing starts were 29.6% lower than August 2008;
• The expiration of the government’s tax credit for first-time buyers is approaching.


Permits, Starts and Completions
Census Bureau, September 17, 2009

Housing starts and permits hit nine-month highs
Greg Robb
MarketWatch, Sept. 17, 2009, 10:46 a.m.

Housing Starts Post Moderate Rise
WSJ, Sept. 17, 2009

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